Episcopal Life Convention Daily
Saturday, 8 July 2000  

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Collins cancels concert over 'discrimination'

News that singer Judy Collins had canceled a scheduled concert at General Convention to protest what she called the church's discriminatory policies against homosexuals prompted a strong response at the convention Eucharist of Integrity, a national Episcopal group of gays and lesbians.

In his homily to the congregation that filled St. Johns Cathedral in Denver on July 6, Bishop Steven Charleston said Collins must have "been talking to the wrong people."

The Episcopal Church "has a long way to go," Charleston said. But, he added, "Judy, look at all the faces in this room, look at the healing that is rising up in this cathedral."

In a news release issued earlier Thursday, Collins stated that she was canceling her scheduled appearance at a July 10 concert to benefit the Episcopal Relief and Development. Collins said that she was "shocked" to learn that "the Episcopal Church, of which I'm a member and in which I was married, does not have an official national church policy allowing ministers to officiate at same-sex unions or ordain openly gay people." While the church is considering moves that would allow each diocese to determine "whether or not to ordain gays and lesbians, or bless same-gender couples on a local level," Collins said that the lack of a national policy amounted to "supporting discrimination." She said she decided to cancel her appearance to protest this "indecision of the Episcopal Church to fully accept all persons into the Christian faith."

Sandra S. Swan, executive director of the relief agency, said in a statement that she respects Collins' "right to make her own decision." She assured those planning to attend the concert that they would still enjoy the show, which features the choral group Chanticleer and musicians from the Aspen Music Festival and Opera Theatre. The show will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the agency, formerly called the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief. Integrity's president, the Rev. Michael Hopkins, also said his organization respects Collins' "right to make this decision." Integrity appreciates "the message of the full inclusion of lesbian and gay persons that she intends to send to the church," he said.

At the same time, he added, "the Episcopal Church, we believe, is on a journey to the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people, a journey we, as Episcopalians, are proud ofdespite the fact that it remains incomplete." Hopkins said, "We especially regret that this action affects the Presiding Bishop's Fund, one of the church's finest organizations, which helps countless thousands of people throughout the world, including gay and lesbian persons."

—James H. Thrall and Robert Williams contributed to this story.

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